TOPEKA — (AP) - The state's highest court on Friday unsealed a lawsuit by a Planned Parenthood clinic against a prosecutor who has charged the clinic with violating Kansas' abortion laws and manufacturing false documents.
The suburban Kansas City clinic, Comprehensive Health, wants the Supreme Court to order Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline to return edited medical records from 30 patients' files. Kline obtained the documents when he was attorney general, before he became the county's prosecutor in January 2007. Kline filed criminal charges against the clinic in October, partly based on those documents.
The Overland Park clinic also wants the high court to hold Kline in contempt, an action that could subject him to a fine or other sanctions.
Attorney General Steve Six is pursuing his own lawsuit seeking the return of the medical records to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. It alleges that Kline violated a previous Supreme Court order on handling medical records, something Kline says isn't true.
The Supreme Court scheduled arguments from attorneys in both cases for June 12. It also will consider Kline's request to have both lawsuits dismissed.
The clinic filed its case with the Supreme Court in June 2007, asking it to be sealed, a request the justices honored. The attorney general's office filed its case two months later, also asking it to be sealed. Later, both Kline and the clinic said the cases didn't need to remain sealed.
Kline said Friday that Planned Parenthood has been trying to prevent him from prosecuting its clinics for violating state law. Abortion opponents also argue that the state attorney general's office wants to protect Planned Parenthood because abortion rights activists were aggressive in efforts to defeat Kline when he ran for re-election in 2006.
"This was harassment," he said of Planned Parenthood's lawsuit. "It's a criminal defendant suing a prosecutor personally."
Planned Parenthood has repeatedly said that Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, sought to prosecute the clinic to further his political goal of restricting abortion. It has denied any wrongdoing as Kline has proceeded with 107 criminal charges in district court, including 23 felonies.
"I am pleased that, finally, the truth is coming out regarding the nature and extent of Mr. Kline's activities," said Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney representing Planned Parenthood.
In June 2007, the attorney general sent Planned Parenthood's attorneys a letter saying that a review of the evidence gathered by Kline, after Kline left that office, found no wrongdoing. Kline obtained medical records through what's known in Kansas law as an inquisition, an investigation supervised by a district judge.
The attorney general's lawsuit named the supervising judge, Richard Anderson, of Shawnee County, as the defendant.
"It is the position of the attorney general's office that because the inquisition has been closed, the private medical records should be returned," said Six spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett. "Our goal has always been to protect women's private medical records."